Sunday, July 10, 2005

Birth Week (Part I)

Not only were the circumstances of Sweetie's birth interesting, but the whole week leading up to it was full of "fun and excitement" as well.

On Monday, December 16th, 2002, I set off to work a little later than my husband. At that point I was working half days on Monday, so I got to sleep in a little before heading out the door. On this day, however, I was also heading out into a New England winter snow storm - complete with heavy snow and icy conditions. I wasn't 2 minutes from my house before I noticed how unsteady my driving was, accompanied by terribly loud noises coming from beneath. I called my husband on my cell to tell him what was going on. He said just take it easy, drive slow, and call him back if I needed to. If I could make it to the car dealership, have them check things out for me there, he said. But about 3 minutes later, as I turned onto the busier by-pass, I realized there was no way I was making it anywhere, let alone to the dealership. The noises were louder and the clunkiness became more serious in nature. I did the only thing I could - pulled over to the side of the road and reported back to my husband that I was stuck. I told him exactly where I was so that he could leave work to come get me. Meanwhile, I phoned our car care plan so that a tow truck could come to my rescue. As I spoke with the operator, a gentleman with a cell phone pulled up behind me to see if I needed to use his phone. It was only at this point (as I hadn't set foot out of my car yet) that I found out I had a flat tire. Now able to tell the car care operator exactly what I was dealing with, she asked me if I knew how to change a tire. "No", I laughed, "And I'm 8 1/2 month pregnant, I'm stuck in a snow storm on a busy road, and I'm disabled. I'm not getting out of this car." So I sat. And waited. My husband showed up first, about 45 minutes later, and the tow truck arrived within the next 15 minutes after that. Our car was hooked up and driven to our dealership and the tow truck driver chauffeured us along with it. Eventually, after waiting for a new tire to be put on the car, we made our way back to work. That was Monday.

On Tuesday I had what was to be my first of the weekly OB/GYN appointments women have during their last month of pregnancy. A seemingly routine exam for most women, but what do I find out from my doctor? That I'm already 2 centimeters dilated and that all other signs point to symptoms of pre-eclampsia. My urine tests concluded that my kidneys weren't functioning properly, my legs and feet were swollen more than they should have been and I told her that I sometimes saw lightening bug type visions at different points in a day. So, I was put on bed rest. Instead of leaving my appointment to go back to work, I left my appointment with a doctor's note in hand to give to work - I was to go home and stay there, at least until Friday when I would have more tests done. I asked my doctor what I should do about my appointment the next day up in Lebanon, NH. It was to be my first time visiting the facility and the doctors who would assist with my delivery. Could I still go to that? Yes, she said, that was fine. Go, and she will forward her notes up to them to let them know exactly what I was dealing with. That was Tuesday.

Wednesday arrived and my husband, taking the afternoon off from work, went with me on the 2 hour trek up to Lebanon. I had spent the morning back at my local doctor's office, involved in a stress test to check out how Sweetie was fairing. She tested out just fine, but I suspected that things were going to start "happening" for me, nonetheless. I took my hospital bag along with us to the hospital, complete with the tiniest of all the baby outfits I had received at my various baby showers. At the very least, I knew that I was going to ask the doctors about scheduling an induction, as I didn't know how my body was going to react during labor and/or if I'd even feel the start of labor. I didn't want to be 2 hours away from the hospital when I finally realized that the baby was coming NOW! Anyway, we arrived at the hospital and I met the kind doctors and nurses who specialize in high-risk pregnancies, and saw the maternity ward where I would deliver. Because they had already received the notes from my local doctor, they sent me for more urine tests and spoke to me more about what I was experiencing with my vision, swollen feet, and general health. The end result - they decided to keep me "for a few hours", just for observation, to see if/how I progressed. Mind you, it was about 7pm when they told us I was staying. The doctors checked to see if I was further dilated (I think I was to 3 centimeters by this point), and they did an ultrasound to check on the condition of the baby. Even if I was stable, we knew there was no way they'd kick us out during the overnight hours. We were there to stay. That was Wednesday.

I awoke early Thursday morning to a new team of doctors and nurses introducing themselves to me. They had reviewed my case and decided that, for the safety of the baby, I was not leaving this hospital without her in my arms. The plan was to get my epidural going by late morning (something I had learned I could have just the day before - I always assumed I couldn't because of the location of my spinal opening. No problem, they said, we'll just do it higher on your back). By mid afternoon they'd break my water, then wait an hour or so to see if I progressed naturally. If I didn't, they'd start feeding Pitocin into my veins to finally get the action going. However, as is typically the case, things didn't go exactly as planned. The ward became super busy as a woman with triplets went into labor, sending nearly every doctor on staff into high gear. With all this going on, I was surprised that their schedule for me veered off course by only a couple hours or so. But their hope of my labor starting naturally after my water was broken didn't come to pass. It was maybe 5pm or so that I was finally started on the Pitocin.

Meanwhile, both my parents and in-laws had been on the scene since about mid-day. When we called to tell them I was going to be induced, all four of them left their respective jobs so they could head on up to be with us for the joyous occasion of their granddaughter's birth. Unfortunately, labor was progressing so slow for me that I remained at 5 centimeters dilated for all of the afternoon and into the night. We finally sent them all home around 11pm with the promise that we'd call as soon as Sweetie arrived. This pretty much marked the end of Thursday for us - almost the end of this active week and its last several, intense hours.

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